First Training Activity of the MP4S Programme – Mindfulness practices for Students in Society
31 May 2022 | From UNICA
Saint Michel de Maurienne, Savoie, 23 – 27 May 2022
On the week of May 23 – 30, MP4s partners gathered in the French Alps for a training of the project which aims to support students to tackle their emotional difficulties through mindfulness. The training was organised by the project’s coordinator, Institut Polytechnique UniLaSalle, and is the first of a series of trainings that will lead into the elaboration of the SIT4PLANET, a generic syllabus that enables university stakeholders to embed mindfulness practices in any course and campus activities.
The activity brought together a total of 37 participants, including representatives of the project and students, teachers, and staff from universities of the consortium. The participants experimented the SIT Programme to co-design how its activities could be extensively embedded in more classical syllabuses to foster civic engagement of students in transition processes for more social and climate justice.
The five days of the training have been divided in morning practices focused on a specific pattern or topic and afternoon sessions aiming at understanding how to include the practice in teachings. Activities were announced by a bell and gave the opportunity to meet and share with each other, creating a community of students, teachers and staff… All with the same goal: making the University a safe space. During these exchanges, the community developed a deep listening process, with all people seen as equals and deserving the same level of attention.
Activities were based in a set of guidelines, which were repeated during the entire week and aim to be integrated in participants’ lives beyond it: care, curiosity, acceptance, trust, not judgement, no striving, letting go. Together with the students, the group analysed the scientific results about mindfulness and worked with attention, considered one of the most valuable resources in the process of learning.
Some activities have been exclusively dedicated to the contact with the environment and nature, which is a cornerstone of the project.
To develop an embodied environmental activism, participants were encouraged to contact with surrounding elements (water, air, animals, green spaces). Feedback from participants shows that feeling part of the ecosystem is prompted by a direct connection with the environment. This supports the idea that awareness, either of one self or their surroundings, is key for the development of a sense of care and empathy, which are essential in the improvement of mental health, environment, and society. This feedback also strengthens the mission of MP4s to contribute to the embodiment of the SDGs by students and beyond.
Well-being and institutional responsibility
There was also time to analyse what universities should change or develop in order to become a safe environment for students, professors and staff. It has been noted that university bodies from institutions of different countries all share the same concern: there is a need to improve pedagogical relations, to create a more horizontal relation between students and other university bodies. During the training, students and professors were able to exchange and share, providing ideas for the project and more.
Once the training came to its end, participants felt positively changed and nourished. They formed new friendships and sensed the importance of becoming ambassadors of their own well-being. It is only the beginning of the MP4s journey! Stay tuned!
Learn more about the expected outcomes of MP4s here.